For the first time, gay rights will be on the agenda of European Human Rights chief's visit to Armenia. On 7 October, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, will meet with representatives of We For Civil Equality (WFCE) NGO, the first (and so far the only) LGBT-related NGO in Armenia which was formally registered in July 2006. Mr Hammarberg will hold meetings with a range of Armenian human rights and non-governmental organisations, along with Armenian authorities, including president, prime minister and head of parliament. It's an important opportunity for Armenian LGBT representatives to present the situation with gay rights in Armenia in its broader context and lobby equality and anti-discrimination legislation.
Currently WFCE NGO is working on two main projects:
- Prevention and Empowerment in the Newly Independent States: Responding to HIV/AIDS amongst Sexual Minorities (2006-2010. Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Non official name is ARMENIAN RAINBOWS )
- LGBT Human Rights violation documentation – “Armenian LGBT Human Rights Campaign”, funded by ILGA – Europe (European branch of International Lesbian and Gay Association).
A report on homophobic incidents and hate crimes in Armenia will come out soon. Similar reports, sponsored by ILGA-Europe, have just been released in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
A scope of activities by WFCE includes regular HIV consultation/testing, film screenings and occasional club nights in Yerevan. In collaboration with various international organisations, WFCE is also involved in HIV/AIDS and LGBT-related trainings.
I am pleased to see that WFCE website is now being updated more regularly and gives clearer idea of programmes and activities. However, Armenia and World News sections on its front page remain outdated and are in need of more actual face-lift.
WFCE NGO: Calendar of events for October
‘We For Civil Equality’ NGO will have a meeting with Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner who is in official visit in Armenia.
President of Moldova's LGBT organisation GenderDoc-M will be in Armenia
HIV consultation and testing
Below is the press release by A1+ on Hammarberg's visit to Armenia:
Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, starts on Sunday 7 October a 5-day high-level official visit to Armenia to assess the human rights situation in the country.
At the centre of Mr Hammarberg's agenda there will be a broad range of human rights issues, including the functioning of the judiciary, conditions of detention, prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, minorities' rights, conscientious objectors, rights of refugees, social and economic rights. The visit will also focus on trafficking in human beings and vulnerable groups. Commissioner Hammarberg will visit various police stations, detention centres, shelters and psychiatric institutions in Yerevan and Gyumri.
During the visit, the Commissioner will hold meetings with the highest authorities of the State, including the President, Robert Kotcharian, the Prime-Minister, Serzhe Sargsyan and the Chairman of the Parliament, Tigran Torosyan. He will also meet parliamentarians, the Presidents of the Constitutional Court and the Cassation Court, the Ombudsman, local authorities, the Head of the Armenian Church, as well as representatives of the civil society.
On the afternoon of Thursday 11 October, Mr Hammarberg will hold a press conference to present the first findings (Council of Europe's Office in Yerevan - 10, David Anhagt street).